The beginning of a school year is an exciting time for new students but if we don’t watch out we can finish the school year as many as 15 pounds heavier than when we started it. This common weight gain, often called the “Freshman 15”, applies not only to freshmen but also for the rest of us as we watch our weight during the busy year. Here are some suggestions to help you make it through the school year without gaining the “Freshman 15”:
Watch out that you don’t eat extra food in response to stress, lifestyle changes, and new food choices in cafeterias and food courts. When you are up late studying or at the library all day, it is tempting to grab a high-calorie, high-fat snack to get you through. Instead, be prepared by keeping healthy snacks-to-go handy like granola bars, breakfast bars or shakes, fresh fruits, peanut butter and crackers, or trail mix. Keep granola bars or trail mix in your car for a quick and easy snack when you end up out later than you thought you’d be.
Watch out for the portion sizes served up at restaurants. Buffets, all-you-can-eat dinners, and sit-down diners can deliver 3 or 4 times the calories you need in a meal. When eating out, save calories and money by dividing your plate in half. Eat one half at the restaurant and save the other half for later. Try to go to restaurants where you can order foods a’la cart instead of ordering a pre-plated dinner or going to a buffet. To avoid being swayed by a friend to order an unhealthy dinner, choose what you want to eat before leaving your house to go to a restaurant. Most restaurants have nutrition facts for their foods online so you can use that information to decide whether or not you’re making a healthy dinner choice.
Last, but not least, don’t forget how important exercise is for you to keep a healthy weight. Start a habit of exercising at least 3-4 times per week at the beginning of the school year. You can work out at your school’s gym, take a solo walk or jog around campus, or start a walking or jogging group with people who live nearby.
Many college students are enjoying their first time making decisions on their own and deciding what to eat by themselves. Take charge of your diet and exercise regimen so that 15 pounds won’t creep up on you this year.